NEWCASTLE, Australia — After a convincing opening match win over Brazil in their two game series, the Matildas roadshow heads north to McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.
In good form, Australia will be looking to continue their 2017 seven game international unbeaten streak – the best in their history.
Consistent with Alen Stajcic’s plan for 2017, the Matildas will continue to look to build depth and flexibility within the squad. As a result there is anticipated to be three personnel changes and subsequently up to seven positional changes.
Portland Thorns forward Hayley Raso, Newcastle Jets midfielder Chloe Logarzo and Brisbane Roar defender and captain Clare Polkinghorne will all come into the starting line up.
These three inclusions could see a number of pieces move around the board with Polkinghorne at centre back allowing for backline and midfield shifts.
Logarzo could potentially take the place of the industrious and clever Tameka Butt or Caitlin Foord out wide while Raso will be a like for like swap with Lisa De Vanna.
“Lisa will be a great weapon off the bench … at least that’s the plan,” Stajcic told The Australian. “There should be a few tired bodies late in the game as players from both teams have had to do a lot of overseas travel to get to Australia for these two games.”
Australia: Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold (gk), Tameka Butt, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Caitlin Cooper, Lisa De Vanna, Casey Dumont (gk), Caitlin Foord, Emily Gielnik, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr, Chloe Logarzo, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Gema Simon, Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams (gk), Georgia Yeoman-Dale
Brazil: Leticia (gk), Dani Neuhaus (gk), Rafaelle, Bruna Benites, Monica, Jucinara, Leticia, Maurine, Fran, Andressinha, Djenifer, Fabiana, Gabi Zanotti, Andressa Alves, Camila, Debinha, Bia Zaneratto, Ludmila, Cristiane, Marta
AUSTRALIA’S PLAYER TO WATCH: HAYLEY RASO
Hayley Raso epitomises the increased work ethic within the Matildas. Since the personal disappointment of missing out on the Rio Olympics squad, Raso has put her head down and worked her way into the starting line up of one of the biggest club teams win women’s football – the Portland Thorns.
Raso’s hard working style endeared her to the Thorns supporters early but there was always a question mark around the winger’s ability to provide a quality final ball or produce a finish.
In the past three months Raso’s diligence has started to pay off on the scoreboard as the 23 year old has found a way to utilise her blistering pace to good effect. Not only can she now produce quality crosses, dangerous balls into the penalty area and assist her teammates but she has also found the back of the net with crucial goals for Portland.
In the Tournament of Nations there were glimpses that her club form was transferring onto the international stage and if that can continue, Raso will be another potent weapon for Australia.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
While Australia got the win, Brazil demonstrated through their physicality, and touches of class from their flair players, that they will not follow the Australian script meekly.
Once again it was a slow start from Australia – something that has become a habit to be broken – but after the opening 10 minutes, the Matildas moved into their stride.
Despite the physical attention of the Brazilian defence, Australia largely controlled the encounter. This observation is not to be overlooked. One of the more pleasing aspects of Australia’s progression is their ability to make the opposition play their game. No longer are the Matildas a reactionary team, they are the ones to make the play and that is no easy feat considering the caliber of teams they have played like Brazil.
In the second match, Australia will look to do more of the same. The inclusions of Raso, Polkinghorne and Logarzo should yield the same playing style and with Logarzo and Raso, the attacking third loses little fluidity.
Polkinghorne’s inclusion, possibly at centre back provides an experienced, stable head in the backline. It also allows for Steph Catley to be potentially shifted to left back – where she made the 2016 FIFPro shortlist – and subsequently Elise Kellond-Knight moves into her FIFA all star position of holding midfielder.
A potential trio of Kellond-Knight, Newcastle native Emily van Egmond and Katrina Gorry should provide Australia with even greater control in the centre of the park and even with Marta in that space, Brazil may struggle to break even in that area. That doesn’t bode well when there is a possible front three of Logarzo, Kerr and Raso or any other combination full of pace.
Alternatively, Australia could go for full out attack utilising their strength in the centre of the park and up front. They certainly have the players to overwhelm a Brazilian midfield and defence.
While Australia are on unprecedented unbeaten streak, Brazil are on unprecedented winless streak of five games. With Emily Lima coming under some pressure, Brazil should again come out fired up and try to knock Australia out of their stride.
The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports and ABC TV 2.
Tickets for the match at McDonald Jones Stadium are selling well and officials are hopeful of exceeding the 15,000 crowd that attended the first game at Pepper Stadium.
Australia v Brazil
19 September 2017
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick off: 7.30pm (AEST)
Last 5 fixtures
16 September 2017: Australia 2 – 1 Brazil (Friendly)
8 August 2017: Australia 6 – 1 Brazil (Tournament of Nations)
13 August 2016: Brazil 0 ()– 0 () Australia (Rio Olympic Games)
24 July 2016: Brazil 3 – 1 Australia (Friendly)
22 June 2015: Brazil 0 – 1 Australia (Women’s World Cup)